Base Facility: Hologram Theater

“Richard Baxton piloted his Recon Rover into a fungal vortex and held off four waves of mind worms, saving an entire colony.
We immediately purchased his identity manifests and repackaged him into the Recon Rover Rick character with a multi-tiered media campaign: televids, touchbooks, holos, psi-tours–the works.
People need heroes. They don’t need to know how he died clawing his eyes out, screaming for mercy. The real story would just hurt sales, and dampen the spirits of our customers.”

— “Mythology for Profit”, Morgan Stellartots Keynote Speech

In the game, Hologram Theaters reduce the number of drones in a base and magnify the effect of Psych spending in the colony, at a fairly high energy maintenance cost.  This means that it’s not a good idea to build these everywhere.  Only large bases really warrant these, and often the player will find ways to not need to build them at all.

And that’s a shame, as this is one of my very favorite quotes in the whole game.  It really deserves more of a hearing.  Fortunately, we can take the time now to make sure that this quote gets its time in the sun.

Let’s start with the fact that it’s pretty hilarious.  I can’t help but imagine the Hollywood-style producers’ meetings where they try to figure out exactly the angle Rick’s chin should be on the movie poster, or what his catchphrase should be, or any of the other countless little details those kinds of people would argue about when planning a big media campaign.

From the name of the Morganite business division, “Morgan Stellartots”, I’m picturing that this campaign is going to mostly be for kids.  Something like a futuristic Pixar movie crossed with Saving Private Ryan.  Which is both a funny idea and one that has a decent chance of being totally awesome if it actually existed.

Going deeper, though, it becomes clear that there’s a lot more here than just laughs.  For one, we get a little taste of just how far into the science-fiction future we’ve already come with the short description of what multimedia means on Planet.  Televids and touchbooks are pretty clearly just traditional TV and tablet computers, though it’s worth noting that the latter didn’t really exist as of the late ’90s, so Reynolds should get a little sci-fi prediction credit for that.  Holograms are also popular, which makes sense as this plays when a Hologram Theater is built.

But there’s also a media vector referred to in the speech as “psi-tours”.  This little phrase is quite evocative.  In this context, it must mean that there are travelling psi-capable folks who put on shows for the public.  Presumably, the psions use their powers to help the audience feel what they’re supposed to feel in any given scene.  I can’t help but imagine what critical reviews of a psi-show would look like.  Clearly, at this point, psi-tours are common enough that they can be remarked upon in passing without the presumptive audience expecting an explanation.

Moving on, a little reflection reveals another interesting angle on Morgan’s philosophy.  He is not an intellectual clone of Rand, as the informed player might expect from his “virtue of selfishness” style slogans.  His people clearly aren’t too hung up on the idea of objective truth if they’re happy to be hosting a keynote speech called “Mythology for Profit”.

It is possible to infer from this that Morgan sees philosophical knowledge (true, justified belief) as valuable insofar only as it is productive.  And, in that sense, Baxter really does continue to defend the faction long after his death through the magic of media.

Finally, this little quote reveals that Morgan’s no pure pacifist.  When played by the AI, he tends to prefer a more peaceful foreign policy.  And his favored Free Market also pushes in that direction, as the massive police penalty makes fighting very difficult.  But, in canon, it’s interesting to note that the Morganites are happy to lionize the bravery and martial prowess of their fighting men.

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